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North Carolina

November 18, 2005

Harassment in McDowell County

In the middle of September 2005, a McDowell County truant officer contacted a Home School Legal Defense Association member family, insisting that they provide him with a copy of the card issued by the Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) as proof that they had filed a notice of intent to operate a homeschool. The officer threatened truancy proceedings against the family unless they provided him with this documentation.

The facts of the case were that the mother had mailed a notice of intent to operate a homeschool to DNPE on July 1, 2005. Thereafter, she received a card from DNPE acknowledging that the notice of intent had been received and filed on July 6. On July 12, the mother submitted a written withdrawal notice for her children to the local public school, thereby indicating that they would not be enrolled as students during the 2005–2006 school year.

Submission of the withdrawal notice was not necessary in light of the fact that the children were never enrolled in the public school for this school year. Nevertheless, the mother had done so in an effort to avoid any expectation that her children should be present at public school once the school term began.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black intervened on behalf of our member family by writing the truant officer and telling him that state law does not require parents to provide the local school district with a copy of the card or other acknowledgment from DNPE of their intent to operate a homeschool. Further, Black cautioned the truant officer about attempting to impose unauthorized requirements on the homeschooling family that could result in civil liability for the school district and its officials.

Other HSLDA member families encountering similar difficulties with local public school officials should contact us for assistance.